The night before a shoot can be some of the most awesomely unhelpful sleep imaginable.
You flip from side to side, thinking of all the things you've done, brainstorming all the things yet to be done, making up a few of the things you should have done ... Then comes that sublime moment when you feel yourself finally going to sleep, your body sinking into that molten, relaxed state, at which point you cup both hands to your inner monologue and bellow at yourself 'YOU'RE GOING TO SLEEP! WELL DONE!'. And so on until 4am, when even your inner monologue must admit it's all getting rather boring.
From whence I woke on the morning of the shoot for Are You Ready Yet?, the sublimely beautiful song cowritten by Clare Bowditch and Gotye, from the Aria nominated EP of the same name.
Of course, the moment I turned up to location to a blazingly beautiful spring morning, sleeplessness was forgotten. For the rest of the day I was firing on all cylinders.
A lot can be said for a steady stream of caffeine and sugar laced carbs, mind.
I find that rarely on a shoot does a thing get you down.
Maybe a death would. Or famine. But rarely a thing.
Truthfully, one simply can't let things get one down. For this is entirely what film making is about: navigating things in order to get as close to the end vision as possible. If you let the things get in the way, then you're missing half the point. When I first heard someone say 'filmmaking is a series of compromises' I thought 'jeezuz, what a depresso, clearly he's in the wrong industry. Or life'.
But if you say 'filmmaking is a series of compromises' with a smile in your voice, then — like a lot of things — it's actually not so bad. In fact, it has the ability to really set you free. It's that mentality that helps when you discover what you thought was possible isn't actually possible at all.
Setting up in the studio, we had encountered a flicker in our picture, one that no amount of relighting or camera calibration could solve. Katie Milwright, our gorgeously talented DoP, and Brendan Slaven, our generous rep from Olympus, had worked on every solution possible, and nothing could eliminate it.
Here it was: a thing.
The sudden truth 3 hours into one day only shoot: we couldn't film indoors, in a controlled environment, at all.
It was decided: we had to shoot outdoors, in the changing light of day, at the whim of the sun, the weather, the wind. The whole aesthetic of the clip was in need of compromise because of a flickering abnormality that couldn't be pinned to anything. Right.
There's an inevitable period on any film shoot where those before the camera spend an inhuman amount of time waiting.
I've been there once or twice myself.
So when we realised the whole thing had to be moved outdoors, it was with a rather heavy heart I had to shrug at all those who'd donated their time and politely pitch 'wait a little longer?' then 'there are biscuits over there'.
Fortunately, in testament to the two artists, every soul who donated their time was ok to continue donating. There were one or two grumbles, true, and someone did disappear (hopefully back home and not down a large hole) but inherently there was simply just patience, a commitment to help in anyway necessary. Which, for the majority of people in front of the camera, meant sitting in sunshine and — yep — waiting.
Within the hour we were set up outdoors.
Our gaffer Dan Carr, an inherently positive and gracious sort, pulled trick after trick out of his van; we had a camping table, easy ups, and all the diffusion, cutters and c-stands we could desire.
It looked for all the world like we'd meant to do this all along. Who says there is one kind of magic in movies?
There's always that moment when you see your first great take.
One that is truly — in the least fluffy, most undeniable sense — magical; for a moment you're transported, or affected, or excited. It's that moment you all go 'ahhhh, there it is. That's it. That's what we're all here for'. When at last we'd started filming, and we saw the first smile break at 2000 frames per second, that was our moment.
Being relatively certain that no one else had done anything like this before helped as well.
A joy spreads when your main order for the day is to be tickled.
It rippled through the little community that had congregated. There were smiles, there was music. When Tony Reiner, our grizzled senior, cackled the walls down at being tickled, there was an impromptu round of cheering and applause. There were hugs from strangers and endless thank you's from both sides. Clare, ever the gracious host, moved about the camp ensuring people were thanked in person, heard, and appreciated.
That sort of attention to humanity, the selflessness of that woman, will see her soar far beyond the relevance of the Australian music scene. If it hasn't already.
Tickling is the remedial parting of the curtain.
We ended up with incredibly personal moments, with laughter and wriggles each different from the last. Telling insights into the characters of the people themselves. Moments of raw honesty, that pleasure/pain of being poked in an area that breaks down any artifice, soils underpants and reveals a kid that's been hiding all along.
Every time I make a music video, I'm seeking to reward you for your time.
To give you something of a peer to the song, but also deliver an experience that acts on its own and — hopefully — calls you back for repeat viewings. It's never been more up to us film makers to inspire the labels to consider them as worth the investment. Not just as marketing tools or ways to promote a face, but to inspire, encourage discussion, to take you away for a moment ... like the songs themselves.
I drove home that night, feeling like a rubber band that had been wrapped around something too big for it and left out in the sun.
But also elated. Clare and Wally had, in Are You Ready Yet?, one of those songs that cut through and struck the right note. The concept, I knew in my caffeine spiked waters, was sound.
That night I collapsed in bed and made up for the lax effort of the night before. I slept the sweet sleep of the innocents, passed out into oblivion. Happy.
Which, considering the song, was exactly as it should have been.
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Coo-ee is a section I dedicate to moving you on to somewhere or someone in the world doing work I reckon you ought to check out. So this post I cup my hands to my mouth and shrilly cry out:
All the photographs you've looked at today come from two delightful photographers who deserve all the opportunities to capture the world through their eyes that they can get.
Has an knack for the portrait. Find him via facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ethaniel-Masters-Photography/213239965360706
She's Clare's sister, and has the warmth and generosity that could well be her family's trademark. Get her via email@example.com.